Our Fees

Duncan Allen is committed to transparency when it comes to billing clients. Due to the unpredictable path that litigation can often take, it can be impossible to provide an exact estimate of the overall costs. However, we strive to provide a reasonable estimate of the cost of each step in the litigation, contrast that with other options available to you, and provide itemized invoices that show exactly where your money is going. If you are wondering “how much does a lawyer cost,” you can browse the tabs below to explore the different options we offer our clients to help them better afford our services, and to learn how retaining a lawyer works.

Dollars and (Common) Sense

Our fees are based on a straight-forward hourly rate and the final cost of your legal services will depend on the amount of time your lawyer spends working on your file. It’s important to us that you understand what your money is going to be used for before we start billing. Billable legal services include:

  • Attending meetings in person or over the phone with you and other professionals;
  • Drafting correspondence to you and any other parties involved (this includes emails);
  • Preparation for and notes following all telephone calls (as well as the call itself)
  • Preparation/drafting of documents
  • Negotiations
  • Preparation for trial
  • Attending court, mediation, four-way meetings, or any other dispute-resolution alternative;
  • Responding to correspondence from you and any other parties involved (this includes emails)
  • Meetings at our office (or any other location)
  • File review/ strategizing
  • Research
The Initial Consultation

Need advice? Just served? Not sure where to begin? Start here.

The initial consultation is the first appointment a prospective client will have at our firm. We believe that it’s very important that our clients feel comfortable– comfortable sharing personal details about themselves and their case, and comfortable with the approach we take to assist in the resolution of their family law matter. That’s why we offer a one-hour consultation appointment that’s dedicated to reviewing your situation, going over the applicable law, and discussing options for moving forward. There is no obligation to retain the lawyer’s services after this appointment, it is just an opportunity to gather practical information and see if retaining counsel is the right choice for your circumstances.

If you are interested in booking an initial consultation, call us at 250-591-1055. Our receptionist will ask for some preliminary information and call you back with our soonest available appointment within 24 hours.

At our one hour consultation, you can expect the following:
  1. To learn about the law and how it affects your specific situation;
  2. To understand the different options available to you for the process moving forward, such as negotiation, mediation, and court options;
  3. To receive a folder filled with relevant articles, excerpts from the law that apply to your situation, helpful tip sheets, and information on process options;
  4. To get an estimate of how much child or spousal support you may need to pay or may be entitled to receive;
  5. To leave our office with a concrete plan of what you should do next.

The consultation is also an opportunity for the lawyer you meet with to assess whether they are able to take on your file based on their current availability, any potential scheduling conflicts, the complexity of the issue, and lawyer-client fit.

Already Booked Your Consultation?

To get the most out of your 60 minutes, we recommend arriving to your appointment at least ten minutes early in order to fill out some basic paperwork. And be sure to bring photo ID and all relevant information with you: especially any legal documents or letters you have received. This will allow the lawyer to get up to speed on your case quickly and offer more specific advice

Give us a call at 250-591-1055 to schedule an appointment. And in the meantime, click here to browse some helpful resources.

Ways to Retain
Full Retainer

Fully retaining a lawyer means they get on the court record as your counsel and attend court on your behalf (if necessary), handle all communication with other parties/lawyers, and are available to you via phone, email, and in-person meeting to discuss your file and address any questions or concerns you may have as they arise. To fully retain a lawyer, we require a retainer deposit up front. Depending on your circumstances, this amount ranges from $3,000 to $7,000. This money is kept in our trust account until we are ready to issue our first invoice. Once you have received a bill for the services rendered up to that point, we can pay ourselves using the retainer funds that are held in trust. When your retainer balance is running low, we’ll ask you to top it up. If your matter is resolved before the retainer is gone, we simply write you a cheque for the remaining amount.

Unbundled Retainer

If fully retaining sounds like more help than you need, unbundled services may be just the thing. “Unbundled” is a term used to describe legal services that are broken down into discrete tasks as a way of lowering the cost of litigation and improving access to justice. Lawyers are able to provide assistance with one specific aspect of a legal matter, and you agree to represent yourself for the other parts. They do NOT communicate with the other party or lawyer, get on the court record, or attend court with or for you. Their role is to assist. This arrangement has become particularly popular in family law in situations where a person might not qualify for legal aid but cannot afford to fully retain a lawyer. We offer unbundled legal opinions, coaching sessions to help prepare for court, drafting services for pleadings in supreme and provincial court, and legal research. To determine the cost of unbundled services, we recommend booking an initial consultation appointment with a lawyer that will help you map out a plan of action and estimate the costs of the individual services required.

Retainer Agreement Process & Fine Print

We require that all new clients of Duncan Allen Law LLP sign a comprehensive contract outlining the parameters of our professional relationship, including what you can expect from us. It also specifies each lawyer’s hourly rate and fully explains our charges and the way we bill. When you decide to retain Duncan Allen Law LLP, one of our assistants will draft the document and send it to you for review. If you are comfortable with the conditions, the agreement is signed by both you and the lawyer. This document is legally binding and tailored to your specific situation. You are welcome to have the retainer agreement reviewed by another lawyer before signing. A signed copy must be returned to our office before your lawyer can begin work on your file.

Independent Legal Advice
Have you written your own agreement or been presented with one by your spouse or former partner? We’ve got your back.

Anyone is free to draft their own marriage or separation agreement, and if the agreement is signed by both parties it can be legally binding (provided the signatures were witnessed and neither party was under duress). In order to ensure an agreement is enforceable and in your best interests, you should get independent legal advice (ILA) before signing any contract (even one you wrote yourself!).

We’ve developed a simple process. You have two appointments with the lawyer: the first is to meet the lawyer who will be assisting you, discuss your background information, explain your understanding of the agreement, and any concerns you might have with it. Then, you’ll leave the agreement with the lawyer. The lawyer then requires a period of about two weeks to analyze the agreement carefully and draft their advice to you into a formal letter. You then attend our office for a second appointment, where they go over the agreement clause by clause, and review their letter to you which outlines their legal advice. If you decide to sign the agreement, it can occur at the second appointment.

This service does not include the lawyer communicating with anybody but you – it’s strictly limited to their providing advice to you regarding the agreement via their letter to you, and the two appointments at our office. It is then your responsibility to communicate with the other parties involved to negotiate any changes and execute signing of the agreement. This is a service we offer at a cost of $1,500.00 (+ tax). This fee is paid up-front, and you are required to sign a retainer agreement before your lawyer can begin work.

Unfortunately, any agreement that both parties don’t agree to sign isn’t worth the paper it’s printed on. If you require extensive changes to be made to your agreement, further appointments are billed at the lawyer’s hourly rate, and we’ll ask that you provide a small further retainer. If you need help negotiating a settlement, flip to the “Ways to Retain” tab above to learn more about retaining a lawyer to communicate with other parties on your behalf.

The Lawful Truth